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Yeow! 17" Catfish by the Jefferson Memorial! Learn to Fish in 30 Seconds!

Learning to Fish in 30 Seconds!

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Help,I need to start fishing now!


  • Sports Authority
  • Dick's Sporting Goods
  • Cabela's
  • Wal-Mart
  • K-Mart
  • Shoppers Food Warehouse (squid, herring - for salt or brackish/tidal water fishing)


You're in a hurry, so I put the name brands on to find them more quickly.

  1. 6 1/2'Combo rod with Quick Fire II (Shimano)
  2. spincast combo --at least 6" taller than person who is going to use it.
  3. Spiderwire braid 30lb+ or Spiderwire Stealth (braid with Teflon); you're going to use only 50-100 yards a rod anyway.
  4. Berkeley Vanish fluorocarbon 20lb+; not necessary if only using #6/8 snelled hooks.
  5. 1 bag snap swivels (try to find 30lb+; 50lb are kind of big: looking almost wasp-like)
  6. Strike King snelled #6 (2 packs if family fishing; or 1 #6 & 1 #8)
  7. Gamakatsu wideshank 2/0 hooks (bass); if you can find only 1/0 or 3/0, those are fine.
  8. Gamakatsu 2/0 octopus circle hooks (catfish or any 2-3lb fish) Think 18" fish as big. And infrequent ...
  9. 1" plastic floats
  10. 1 bag 1/4 oz bullet lead sinkers (usually 5-10)'sometimes come as titanium ... up to you
  11. 1 bag 2 oz lead sinkers
  12. -- Think sinkers and floats as mutually exclusive

  13. 1 bag june bug (Dark red) 6" worms (Zoom or Berkeley) The more scent the better. I have had no success with Gulp and limited with Yum ...
  14. Small plastic bag of leftovers (bacon, peanut butter sandwich, bread, hot dog, cheese)

Now, GO!

P.S. Don't bother replacing the line on the spincast (if you bought one). Some stores are supposed to wind line on for you so take advantage of that - if you can find the line and spinning combo in the same store!

Put the snaps on as soon as possible; the small hooks are already snelled - leaving the bigger hooks to be tied with about 12-18" of fluorocarbon. Practice your Palomar knot!

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What REALLY gets a fish to bite

The factors in a fish's decision to nail your lure are, in no particular order (as it varies ...):

Sight: color of lure; if it matches what it is used to eating or being threatened by, then this is the old matchthehatch presentation. However, many places get a lot of "fishing pressure"-places where people are ALWAYS throwing in the same old color/stuff; in this case, change is great. Perhaps why chartreuse is so perversely successful. Nothing living in water is chartreuse.

Speaking of perverse, spinnerbaits are the oddest purchase one might make; they look like nothing fishy. But if you were to look at them from the fish's perspective, looking UNDER the spinner, you will see that the silhouette actually looks like a minnow or baitfish. Go into a dirty swimming pool with a diving mask on and look up as a friend casts and retrieves a spinnerbait. Almost irresistible.

There are other times that make no sense, like using watermelon or pumpkinseed plastics in stained water - or black at night. Seems the silhouette is more important than color ...

Sound: too much and they run for cover, but some always gets attention as sound = movement. One reason you may find lures with rattles is that is (supposedly) the sound of crawfish or wounded baitfish. Movement, like a wide wobble on a crankbait, is sound to a fish.

Smell: catfish are known for having more scent-sniffing organs than probably any other fish. All along their bodies! One reason live or cut bait works is the natural smell. Naturally, it works better if you have the fish find the smell rather than try to cast around; You might find letting a lure sit for 20+ minutes will have catfish circling and then Wham!

Speed: generally cannot retrieve too slowly, but can too fast. Even crankbaits and buzzbaits should probably be retrieved at the slowest rate that still maintains their position; for example, buzzbaits can be retrieved so fast that they almost skip across the water, but if done slowly enough, would present a gurgle and still be on the top of the water. The rule for a fish is: am I going to spend more energy trying to catch & digest than that bait can provide? Be the fish ...

Season: There is no point trying to fish for a species when they, um, have interests in things other than eating; typically this period is relatively short (about two weeks) and occurs early May to mid-June. You can see them along the banks, you could hit them with your rod, but you just can't get them interested in nibbling. I have been lucky enough to find that while one group is spawning, there is another group that has already done their thing or have yet to. Other than spawn, cold weather also slows down activity; they just seem to disappear. Water temperature below 65°F is borderline, but 55°F and forget about it.

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How do I get a lure out of a tree

If the wind has blown your line over a branch, but the lure can be retrieved with the rod or long pole or hand, grab the lure and cut it off; yes, you have to retie, but you have saved the lure and now have only line to retrieve.

If the lure is unreachable, slowly bring the lure up to the limb, to keep it from wrapping itself around. Next aim the rod like a rifle at the lure and gently twang the line. If that doesn't loosen it, then, keeping the line taut, pull the line beyond the rod like a small bow - and let go.

If that fails, put the rod down, grab the line and give a good hard pull. You are using 30lb test or better, right?

Under NO circumstances use the rod as leverage, as it will snap! Use gloves when pulling so you don't cut yourself up on 30-50lb line.

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How do I fix "memory" in my line

In a word, WD40. Or Reel Magic. Spray on reel before casting.

Switch to braid ...

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How do I fix line twist on my spinning reel

This is a toughie. Line twist causes knotty snarls - particularly with braid. The worst situation is finding the line has caught on itself on the reel and the lure goes crashing at my feet. This usually occurs when I am using a light lure; so switch to something heavier (3/4 oz?) and cast it as far as you can, then, as you reel in, put your rod hand about 6"above the reel, holding the line. Apply some resistance to the line (squeeze between thumb and two fingers) as you retrieve. This seems to rebalance the spool.

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What is the best knot

The best knot is one that can be tied, easily, quickly, and doesn't untie, rain, shine, light or dark. While braid is the easiest, fluorocarbon is hard to work with. Unfortunately no knot really satisfies those objectives, but the Palomar comes awfully close. If you can hold a flashlight between your teeth, or better yet, have a "miner's" lamp over your forehead (used for hiking and climbing; think REI ...) you can tie a Palomar. [video]

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Trees, trees, trees!

Nothing like catching a lure on a tree on the backswing ... Try a shorter rod (5'6" - 6')

Definitely do NOT use a baitcast reel as all the fancy rollers in the world will not prevent a bird's nest; baitcast is really dumb: it expects the lure to go where you want it to go and cannot adjust for the sudden whack of a tree branch snagging the lure.

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How do I prevent snagging

If you ain't snagging, you ain't bagging" is small solace to the time spent retying a rig. If you are using sinkers in any form, you are going to snag and no lindy rig or bottom bouncer is going to change that. Second, some hooks are just bound to catch: shad darts, worm and tube hooks, jigs. Just remember that most of these presentations are designed for vertical presentation: line up, line down - not line across; use them accordingly.

Use the rod for retrieve - not the reel. You will feel a snag more quickly with the rod; use the reel for taking up slack only.

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How do I find the right rod for my reel

Two simple ways: a baitcast rod usually comes with a trigger (a black, curved piece of plastic at the top of the rod butt.) Spinning rods start with a huge eye then the rest all taper down to a small eye.

Another way is to find a combo with a reel that matches yours (spin or baitcast). Just carry it around the store with you and pick out rods to see if they match. A baitcast reel will be on top, with the eyes on top and pretty much all the same size. Match the saddle (where the reel will go) with that of the rod you picked up.

With a spinning rod, the eyes will be underneath -- same as the reel/saddle.

Nope, you really can't mix & match rods & reels; you have to get it right!

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Why do you always wear a glove

Some fish are poisonous to touch. Some have spines or barbs. Others wriggle, throwing treble hooks wherever they can. Still some are just plain slippery. A better grip is easier on the fish.

On the other hand, some fish have a protective slime on their bodies, which can be wiped off by the acid/alkali Ph of your hands, exposing them to parasites.

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How much line should I put on my reel

In a store you will see massive amounts of line on combos -- way too much. Since it is usually monofilament, it is going to fall off like a slinky and create a birds-nest, even if it, or especially, is a spinning reel.

Now you do not need 75 feet, let alone 75 yards, as most bass are caught within 20-30 feet; over a season, however, you may lose, say, half the line through snags and break-offs.

Even 75 yards is not very efficient, as you want to build up the diameter of the spool to get the most line out with every rotation. Think of wrapping 5 loops around your finger, against wrapping line around your wrist: 5 wraps on the wrist is a lot more line. To "thicken" up that diameter, you wind more line on the spool.

When do you stop? When you can just fit the edge of a nickel between the spooled line and the edge of the spool; do not count the beveled edge of the spool.

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Contact: Buzz Andrews
Bluffton, SC

©tfci, inc. 2009

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